North P&I has urged maritime stakeholders to seize the opportunity provided by a UK government summit last week to establish an international action plan to deal with the crew repatriation crisis resulting from Covid-19.
Led by UK Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the virtual event is the first ‘international summit’ addressing the impact of Covid-19 on crew working conditions. It will bring together representatives from the International Maritime Organization, the International Chamber of Shipping, and other associations.
With more than 1.2 million seafarers at sea at any one time, around 200,000 have been caught up in delays to crew changes, as travel and border restrictions have been applied, repatriation refused and medical attention ashore denied.
“Recent weeks have seen welcome action, especially as air routes have opened up, and certainly IG club correspondents have been working tirelessly at the sharp end to get things moving. However, this is not simply about logistics and good will.”
He said: “Crew changes continue to be hindered by quarantining, visa issues and bureaucracy, and only governments have the power to ensure that different authorities act with common purpose.
“It is vital that port authorities and national governments treat seafarers with the fairness and respect they deserve, and this requires an orchestrated response.”